Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority programmes

Social Development

21 February 2012
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Health and Welfare Sector Education Training Authority (HWSETA) outlined its mandate and learning programs in the social development sector. The majority of employers registered with the SETA were in Gauteng and most employees were African females. Scarce, critical and priority skills were determined annually for the sector skills plan, and these were outlined, together with the collaborative efforts between the SETAs, universities and Further Education and Training colleges. Funding would be given where there was a guarantee of increased employment. Five Skills Programmes were identified in the 2010-2011 financial year and these included HIV/Aids Awareness and Home Based Care (HBC). The programmes were constantly being researched and updated and all related to the social sector, not health sector. The majority of learners were from KwaZulu Natal, and were training in Home Based Care. Another successful programme was one on Early Childhood Development (ECD), where 450 learners were selected from nine provinces, with 50 learners per site. Those qualifying would progress on to the next level and would then take responsibility for development of further courses. However, there were still problems with the maths and science aspect of earlier education and the whole education system needed to be reviewed to raise learners’ marks. There were some surplus funds left over from social development projects over the last five years and these had been recommitted. Special funding was allocated for learnerships for those with special needs and disabilities. Most of the Adult Basic Education and training funding was allocated to non-government organisations assisting the unemployed, and R5 million of levy funding was set aside for skills development. Employers were encouraged to develop their existing employees first. There was also a social worker exchange programme between HWSETA and Skills for Care in England. A final report on this would be made available in April 2012. The challenges were outlined, and included insufficient participation, non-registration of learners with the SETAs and misunderstanding as to what was required of learners and providers. There was still a high degree of corruption in the sector, and poor implementation of learnerships, with mismatching of skills. The HWSETA was concerned with sustainability of institutions and employers, and the need to protect the public.

Members asked about funding processes, why not all provinces had a good representation of learners, and what was done to fund in those provinces. Members were concerned about lack of awareness and asked about communication, both with potential learners and employers. They asked about the current financial position of the SETA, and what it was owed by way of outstanding fees and levies. They were concerned about any overlaps between health and welfare sector training, particularly in relation to the Children’s Act and training of social workers, but noted the response that the HWSETA did not deal with training of social workers, as this fell into the Higher Education sector. They asked about the functions of Auxiliary workers, noted that although there was some training in home based care, there was still high unemployment, and wanted to know what the relative priorities of the Departments of Health and Social Development were in this regard. Members were still concerned that too little training was done, with concrete results, in mathematics and science, and asked about the collaboration with universities and FET colleges. The numbers of people being trained was felt to be too low. Questions were asked on how corruption was being addressed, the bursaries, the exchange programme, involvement of those with disabilities, and investment in the rural areas. Members thought that sometimes the planning did not appear to be well thought-out, and asked if shortage of trained workers was due to lack of access, or lack of money.

Members adopted minutes from 10 August to 29 November 2011.

Meeting report

Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority programme briefing
The Chairperson noted the apologies of the Minister and Deputy Minister, and noted the presence of Mr R van Loggerenberg, Director: Sector Education and Training, National Department of Social Development.

Ms Elaine Brass, Chief Executive Officer, Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority, highlighted the mandate of this Authority (HWSETA) and said that she would discuss the learning programmes and sector profile.

For the HWSETA, the majority of employers were in Gauteng, and most employees were African females. Scarce, critical and priority skills were determined annually for the sector skills plan. Recent research had identified the scarce, critical and priority skills, and these were outlined for the government and non-government sectors (see attached presentation for full details). The strategic plan outlined the collaboration between the SETAs, Universities and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges. Where there were guarantees of increased employment, funding would be given.

Five Skills Programmes were identified in the 2010-2011 financial year, which included HIV/Aids Awareness and Home Based Care. These programmes were constantly being researched and updated,  and all related to the social sector, not health. The majority of learners were from KwaZulu Natal, were unemployed and were attending to Home Based Care.

One successful area of funding was highlighted  - which was the Early Childhood Development (ECD) L4 learner ship. 450 learners were selected from nine provinces, with 50 learners per site. The learners were completing their programme, and those who were successful would progress to L5. Those who qualified would be able to take responsibility for the course, and have the capacity to oversee and develop it. Mathematics and science would take much longer before improvements were seen. The whole education system needed to be reviewed. An incremental approach was needed to raise learners’ marks.

She noted that there were surplus funds left over from the Social Development Projects funded over the last five years. Additional funding was recommitted. Special funding was allocated for learnerships for those with special needs and disabilities. Applicants were allowed to motivate for funding, and had to include what special needs they catered for, and what benefits there would be, and relate these to the work markets. Funding to the Social Development (SD) sector in 2010 and 2011 mostly went to learnerships. The Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) funding was mostly directed to those who were unemployed, via non-government organisations (NGOs) who were dealing with this sector, since not many employers applied for funding to assist this category.

R5 million of the skills training levy (and here she noted that the NGOs were exempt from paying) was set aside for skills development. This could include skills in human resources, fund raising, computer, and other workplace skills. NGOs also identified their needs. It was imperative that employers should demonstrate development of their own workers, and this question was always asked of them. The funds allocated determined the number of applicants who would receive funding, but careful consideration was given to every application.

Ms Brass moved on to discuss the Social Worker Exchange Programme. She noted that the HWSETA and Skills for Care in England had been working together since 2005. Apart from comparing and contrasting the programmes, the English model would contribute to the development of best practices in the sector. Details of the programme were highlighted (see attached presentation for details). The official launch of the programme was in 2011. The final report was to be published in April 2012.

Patrick Samuels, Executive Manager: Skills Development and Planning, HWESTA noted that in 2010, 1 081 learners obtained certificates, across all the provinces. For 2011, 1 405 obtained certificates. The highest number of certificates were awarded in Limpopo, with the service provider 'Better Best.'

Mr Samuels outlined some of the challenges. The first related to insufficient participation in the programmes. A two-day workshop would be held by the National Department of Social Development (DSD) with all  provincial departments. The rules applied equally to all applications, and the workshop would focus on participation. Non-registration of learners with the SETA was another problematic area. There was not always a good understanding of what was required of providers and learners, as illustrated by a recent incident in the Northern Cape. Another major problem was the high degree of corruption in the sector. Decentralisation played a role in this, as well as incorrect information to communities. There was poor implementation of the  practical component of learnerships. There was also often mis-matching in this regard. Learners should be trained in the fields that they were studying, and their experiences should be relevant to the qualification. Monitoring of the quality of education and training had to be intensified. Poaching of trained individuals was another issue.

HSETA, when proposing possible solutions, noted that it was concerned with sustainability of institutions and employers. The SETA said that once the institutions were accredited, they should remain so. Mr Samuels stressed that the primary purpose of accreditation was protection of the public.

The Chairperson welcomed the introduction that set out the mandate, and also expressed her appreciation for a frank outlining of the challenges and possible solutions.

The Chairperson asked how funding processes were initiated, both for Early Childhood Development (ECD) training and FET colleges.

Mr Samuels said that HWSETA would liaise directly with those entities, that no other parties were involved, and that there had been no approach from the DSD about funding.

Mr V Magagula (ANC) questioned why other provinces showed such as poor representation of learners, and what was being done about funding in those provinces. He was also concerned about the lack of awareness about the programmes, and wanted to know how this would be addressed.

Ms E More (DA) also wanted to know what was being done to raise awareness in the communities. She noted the reference to the sustainability of and support to NGOs. She asked what support was given to learners during training, and how long the training would take.

Ms More asked how the HWSETA planned to obtain participation from a greater number of employers, as it was evident from the presentation that too few were participating.

Mr Samuels commented, in relation to marketing, that multiple mechanisms were used, including advertising and awareness through the community media, sending of invitations to all skills development facilities for each organisation, and direct liaison between organisations and the SETA. This in turn was linked to the question of assistance to develop capacity, which was both possible, and was actually being done. The HWSETA would be invited, throughout the year, to communities to inform people how they could participate. However, many organisations did not qualify for the skills benefit rate. Where they did qualify, they were assisted through the registration process and were told how they could meet the criteria. In some cases they had to be registered as a formal legal entity and had to be assisted in how to manage their funds, and the training process had to be verified.

Mr Samuels noted that the HWSETA did not have an automatic presence in all the provinces. This depended upon whether HWSETA was invited. There were no charges for training and it was a SETA expense. Training occurred over two days for six months and learners were awarded 69 credits towards a new qualification.

Mr M Waters (DA) asked how much money HWSETA had in the bank, and how this amount related to the amount outstanding in respect of fees and levies still owed to the SETA.

Ms Brass said that the HWSETA bank balance currently consisted of  R474 million in banks, which was held in five banking institutions. Of this amount, R300 million was already committed, leaving about R1 million surplus. In February and March, there was a focus on projects at community level, which would include programmes in partnership with the Department of Health on the National Health Insurance, funding of cooperatives and increasing community level involvement.

Ms Brass added that the collection of outstanding levies had generally been good, although there were some challenges in collecting from government departments, especially in Gauteng. Issues with outstanding amounts in Eastern Cape had been resolved satisfactorily. All the levies were combined in one “pot” for discretionary funding of focused projects, as needed.

Mr Waters asked if there was any overlap between the health and welfare sectors’ training, particularly in regard to the costing of the Children's Act and the training of social workers. The biggest issue identified was the need for 60 000 social workers, and so concrete figures were needed for this priority area. He asked for the number of social workers trained over the last five years, with a breakdown of the numbers in each of the years.

The Chairperson requested an explanation on the functions of Social Auxiliary Workers.

Mr Samuels said that there were differences between levies from the health and Social Development sectors. There were 25,000 registered employers in the Health Sector, and about 6 000 in the Social Development sector (which accounted for about 11% of the levies. About 30% of the funding went to learners from the Social Development sector. The training of social workers fell into a Higher Learning category, required the granting of bursaries, and was thus outside the HWSETA mandate, which was to focus on training from L1-L4. Instead, HWSETA focused on training auxiliaries and community youth workers. He added that currently the Universities were graduating about 3 000 social workers annually, and some higher education institutions were trying to double that number.  The number of social workers produced would in turn impact on the numbers of auxiliary workers, since registered social workers had to mentor and coach the auxiliaries through their practical training.

Ms More commented, in respect of Home Based Care (HBC), that although it was clear that some training was being given, an explanation was still needed as to why there was still unemployment in this area.

The Chairperson also asked for more clarity on home-based care (HBC), especially one that set out the priorities of the Department of Social Development as opposed to those of the Department of Health (DoH). She wondered if the responses by the Department of Health in the past had been adequate.

Mr Samuels said the HBC workers issue was part of a bigger debate, and was a difficult one for the HWSETA to handle. He suggested that it would be useful to have another method to try to achieve a bridging across the two sectors. The HWSETA could certainly offer support in skills development in HBC. HWSETA would ensure that  training occurred where there were job opportunities. If learners were not employed, this should be reported back to the HWSETA. However, Mr Samuels made the point that although some learners would be able to become successfully self-employed, there was a need for another mechanism to find employment for those who did not fall within this category, so that they could access the formal economy. It must be remembered that many of those being served could not actually afford to pay for these services. The question was whether national government, the municipality or a sophisticated NGO model could be used to employ people. He added that collaboration of Universities and FETs was important.

Ms More noted that more mathematics and science training had to be offered to more learners. She then asked about the promotion of training by universities and FET colleges, and whether local media were employed to promote this training in the townships.

Mr Samuels responded that the collaboration with universities and FET colleges was integral to the process, and was necessary to raise the quality of education and training. The problem resided in the basic education system. Problems around maths and science training had not been resolved over the last twelve years, and this was unlikely to be resolved in the short term. He thought that a more gradated approach was needed; for instance, concentrating first on raising results by 5%, then working, by degrees, towards 40%. Learners who had not done well in matric would be given a second chance to improve their symbols. The quality of education was poor at schools. A period of six to twelve months was insufficient to achieve a significant improvement in grades. Although learners were given a second chance, they were still not succeeding. This indicated that the problem was much deeper than could be addressed by a mere bridging course, and he suggested that the whole education system needed to be reviewed, with involvement of everyone.

Ms More said that the number of participants in the training programmes was too low, and this was not positive for the country. She asked that any plans to address these problems should be set out.

Mr Samuels said that small micro entities did not qualify as they were not claiming back training levies. For this reason, monies were rolled over to fund other skills programmes. Certain organisations were allowed a levy exemption.

Ms More asked how effective the HWSETA had been in addressing corruption and asked for more details on this. She asked if the HWSETA employed methods such as unannounced visits. She also asked how long it took to de-accredit any officials who were shown to have been corrupt.

Mr Samuels said that some of the corruption issues included fake invoices, or giving names of fake learners and employers, and all had to be investigated. These were areas for development.

Ms Brass added that the HWSETA was passionate about eradication of corruption. Corruption was being dealt with by developing the de-accrediting system, which included investigations, opening of legal cases, and prosecuting any corrupt officials. Recently, no de-accreditations had been done. Where training providers were not registered, learners should be alerted immediately. There was a problem in keeping track of people who were corrupt, as they would keep moving about.

The Chairperson asked what happened to a bursary holder who failed the course.

Ms More asked if there were bursaries for the Industrial Policy Action Plan Project for Home Based Carers.

Ms Brass said that bursary returns could not be guaranteed, as it was impossible to predict outcomes and there was a high failure rate. Perhaps the first year's fees should be paid by the learners, as many were simply not appreciative of their funding, and the drop out rate in the first year was as high as 60 or 70%.  The poor quality of basic education impacted on the quality of the qualification. Training under the HWSETA banner was important. She thought that a culture of “In order to receive, I must be prepared to give back” must be promoted.

Ms H Makhuba (IFP) wanted to know how persons with disabilities were being involved. She said that non-participation of any grouping had to be addressed, as a matter of urgency.

Ms Brass noted that the programmes were also accessed by those with disabilities and the students had done well, and the HWSETA was proud of them, especially when they showcased their research.

Ms Makhuba and Ms More asked about the criteria for selection of the exchange students, and where they were from.

Ms Brass responded that there was wide advertising in relation to the exchange students. The criteria for selection included that students must have a four year degree, at least five years experience, be South African citizens, with a valid passport. They should be able to read, write and speak English, have good research skills, the ability to travel, be registered with the Council, have a letter of recommendation from the employers and parental consent.

Ms Makhuba questioned whether rural areas were being included.

Ms Brass responded that investments would be made in rural projects, including training in partnership with the Department of Health. Institutions where learnerships were done would follow up by employing the learners on completion of the learnership.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC) commented that she would have expected more learners from the Eastern Cape, given that unemployment was so high in that province, and asked if the low numbers were due to lack of awareness.

Mr Samuels commented that the profile of the learners across the provinces showed that the majority were from KZN and Gauteng. Public funding was awarded to persons making application, but these applications should come from employers and not individuals. He agreed that anyone making application should be made aware of the programmes. Only six provinces had actually made applications; and because the funding was based on applications, none could be given to provinces who did not apply. In addition, there were set criteria to be met before funding, including employer awareness, training of own employees first, before taking on outsiders, and empowerment by employers taking responsibility for skills development.

The Chairperson commented that there was not always evidence of rational planning. She gave an example of a visit by the Premier to Barkly West, showing differences in training by two different entities.

The Chairperson noted the shortage of auxiliary and child youth care workers, and questioned if this had to do with a problem of access to opportunities and money. She suggested that there might also be a problem with “late bloomers” and those who registered too late. She suggested that it could be useful to hold promotional roadshows.

Mr Samuels agreed that other parties were not responding to the various opportunities available, nor was there also an adequate response. He noted that there was indecisiveness, and a tendency to try to abdicate responsibilities, raising queries whether certain matters were the responsibility of Department of Health or the Department of Social Development. Each expected the other to take responsibility for skills development. Where there were mergers between the work of the DSD and HWSETA, these had not worked well. He cited an example of one of the earliest institutions in Mpumalanga, set up already in 2005, where there was still no participation from employers. The Provinces required funding of programmes and the development of the SETAS. There was very little control of programmes by the HWSETA or the DSD. 

Adoption of Draft Minutes 10 August to 29 November
Members were asked to adopt sets of minutes, ranging from 10 August to 29 November 2011. Although they did suggest some changes, these were mostly of a minor grammatical nature.

The Minutes were adopted, with the relevant amendments.

The meeting was adjourned


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